The coolest parents on the block are always the ones who host the Halloween party. They give the thumbs-up to slimy messes, gross masks, creepy games and party food that moves. They even enjoy little partygoers who are a bit wired on sugar and anticipation.
If you’re the Halloween hosts this year, we’ve got some original, slime-inspired ideas tested and heartily approved by our own group of trick-or-treaters. A gloppy theme, we quickly discovered, is disgusting enough to be irresistible, but not macabre enough to scare off kids. With the following activities and creepy cuisine, we’re sure you will have a very “goo” time.
The center of your front yard is the perfect spot to set up an elaborate faux graveyard for the neighborhood’s annual Halloween party. Families can erect plastic, Styrofoam, and wood headstones and label each with an epitaph or a clever name. The cemetery may get more hair-raising each year. You can add a fog machine, strobe lights, flying bats, and haunting music. Neighbors from other streets come to your cemetery for some fun, screams, and great eats.
You may also host a neighborhood potluck. Set up the food in the garage, which you can transform into a creepy setting complete with a motion-activated skeleton that asks, “What are you supposed to be?” when kids walk by. Each family brings a slow-cooker dish, be it chili or soup or dip, as well as Halloween candy. So it’s one-stop trick-or-treating.
To illuminate a prop, such as a skeleton or a pumpkin, with colored light, place a clip-on or swing-arm lamp so that it shines on the object at an effective angle. Tape a cellophane gel about 2 inches from the bulb. (Gels, pieces of colorful, heat-resistant plastic, are available at many photographic, film or theater supply stores for about $6.) For even simpler lighting, use colored light bulbs, available at hardware and electric supply stores for $3 to $5.
Stuff a pair of rubber gloves with tissue paper or soft cotton batting. Decorate them with whatever strikes your fancy: spray paint, gauze wrap, fake fingernails. Rings, a watch, rubber insects, or red “blood” paint.
Creepy signs hung on doors around your house add to the haunted decor and make exploring the house, even more, fun for party goers.
To set up this classic gag, first cut a round hole (slightly larger than head size) out of a large piece of cardboard. Place two tables of similar size side by side, about 12 inches apart, and lay the cardboard across the gap. Cover the tables and cardboard with a paper tablecloth. Cut a hole in the cloth to match the hole in the cardboard, and have a parent or friend hide underneath the table so that her head pokes out of the hole. To make a mock serving tray, cut a platter-size doughnut shape out of cardboard, making the hole just the size of her neck. Cut the doughnut in half, cover each half with aluminum foil, and rejoin around the jokester’s neck. Decorate the tray with vegetable garnishes and set the meal around the platter. Place a silver warming cover over the head and–voilà!–dinner is served.
If you prefer the full body effect, set up a monster operation where partygoers can tweak, prod, and pull at the monster’s ghoulish insides (spaghetti intestines, chestnut water gallstones, and Jell-o guts).
Halloween Party Food Ideas, Tips and Tricks
Because kids are especially hopped up on candy and the sanctioned naughtiness of the holiday, you need to plan your Halloween party carefully or you, too, might turn into a monster.
With this house-to-house party, a great holiday is made even better by extending the fun, varying the menu and bringing families and neighbors together. Don’t be scared. The point here isn’t for one family to throw a monstrous bash. Three families split up the work, each hosting a part of the party at their haunts. And the kids will love it: They’ll get to gobble some creepy cuisine, play wickedly fun games and take home a memory that will last far longer than their candy hoard. Here are three party suggestions including crafts, activities, and treats for a genuinely eerie adventure.
Children meet the Ghost Host, who welcomes kids into a world of white, bright and pure delight. A few days before the party, make Giggly Gravestones and Ghost Wind Socks decorate the entrance of your eerie estate and round up old sheets, lace, and craft-store cobwebs to dress the windows and cover the furniture. Make as much food as you can in advance so you can focus on setting the mood on the day of the party. Check out the ghost hunting equipments if you want turn it into a real ghost hunt with these tools.
Host Dr. Frank N. Beans (a playful parent with a mad glint in his eyes) has a problem. His grumpy green giant needs a head-to-toe checkup. The job’s too big for one madman, and that’s where the children enter. They squish and squeeze the monster’s guts until he has a clean bill of horrible health. Before the party, set up the doctor’s lab: Post clocks set to the wrong time, line windows with Monster Jugheads, round up wacky lights (from lava lamps to strobe lights) and make a party tape of dripping sounds. On Halloween, prepare the food and cut up veggies for the monster’s body. Click on these links for a wickedly monstrous occasion.
On their third and final stop, trick or treaters are off to see the wizard. Magic Wanda, a crazy clairvoyant (played by an adventurous mom) who’ll tempt kids with tantalizing treats and predict their futures (she has, of course, a crystal ball, but one unlike any we’ve ever seen). To add celestial seasoning to your abode, string cookies across the ceiling, drape your furniture with silk and velvet cloth, attach stick-on glow-in-the-dark moons and stars to the walls, and make a homemade tape of songs with lyrics focusing on magic, such as “Magic Bus” and “Magical Mystery Tour.” Once under Magic Wanda’s power, kids may not want to come back to earth. Return them to the present with a take-home treat and the promise of more magic to come next year.
Fishing for Fortunes
Stars and Moons Cookie Contest
Ever heard about the father who dresses up each Halloween as a scarecrow? He sprawls across a bench on his dimly lit front porch, just another decoration among the pumpkins and waits. When unsuspecting families come up to ring the doorbell, he lets out a groan, then another groan. “Did you hear that?” a startled guest asks. Some guests flee, most inch closer, poking tentatively at the patient scarecrow until they all dissolve into giggles. The father is an instant neighborhood hero.
For this Halloween extravaganza, we consulted all the community heroes we know for their best gags, decorations, costumes and games. We will show you how to turn your lovely home into a diabolical mansion, with out-of-this-world lighting, creepy contests, and a menu to delight the most fiendish 10-year-olds.
All set? Then right this way, our little pretties:
It seems every child I know these days is allergic to something. Whether it be dairy, soy, milk, food coloring or preservatives, feeding children is getting tougher by the minute. So how do you come up with a non-allergenic treat to hand out to the kids in your neighborhood? After all, you don’t want an angry parent knocking on your door at midnight, waving an E.R. bill in your face.
Don’t worry. Plenty of inedible treat ideas are sure to make the kiddies smile, whether or not they can ingest them in five seconds flat. In fact, with these goodies, you could be the most popular street on the block! Check out some of my favorite inedible treats:
For ages 2-4:
For the little Tiggers that come knocking on your door, why not offer a mini can of Play-Doh? A case of ten is just $11.99, and the color selection is endless. Not only will the little tikes be happy, but parents will love your ingenuity when they don’t have to fight the sugar rush that evening!
For ages 4-6:
So what’s in store for the pre-K Piglets? Try a few glittery, washable tattoos that are sure to put a smile on any child’s face. And at just $4.87 for 72 tattoos, the price will put a smile on yours.
For the “too-cool” Eeyores in your life, why not pass out a few DIY Halloween bookmarks? The kids can create their own, or you can get them started with a few kooky designs yourself. The kit is just $7.95 for 24, the perfect price point for the few almost-teens that are brave enough to set forth on Hallow’s Eve.
Proof that a sugar-free Halloween can be just as exciting and affordable as your candy counterparts.
Last-Minute Halloween Decorations
Did Halloween sneak up on you? There’s still plenty of time to scare up some thrills with last-minute Halloween decorations!
Whether you’re hosting a ghoulish Halloween bash or decorating your home to welcome trick-or-treaters, check out these last-minute decorating ideas that won’t break the bank.
1. Spook the Punch
No party is complete without a festive cocktail. Make a bubbling witches’ brew by placing a punch bowl in a cauldron, along with broken pieces of dry ice. Pour hot water over the dry ice to create an eerie smoke effect. In the mood for blood? Serve a spooky, delicious red punch.
2. Glow-in-the-Dark Paint
Carving pumpkins aren’t the only way to decorate your front stoop. Write spooky messages with glow-in-the-dark paint on pumpkins and gourds.
Replace regular incandescent bulbs in light fixtures with spooky orange light bulbs and black lights. For a dramatic Halloween glow, hang a few rice paper lanterns in your entryway with orange light bulbs.
Give your home that spooky, abandoned feel by throwing white sheets over furniture. For extra drama, board up your windows with thin pieces of plywood. Use an easy-to-remove adhesive like 3M Command to temporarily secure the boards.
Create a chilling gallery of art to complete your haunted house. Photocopy old portraits from history books about the 18th or 19th century. Then mount the photocopied portraits on black mats and group them together on your fireplace mantel or line a wall in your house.